The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, December 8
On Dec. 8, we honor Mary, our Mother. The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is a Catholic feast celebrating Mary’s conception without sin. Even though this feast day occurs in the liturgical season of Advent, which prepares for the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of Mary in the womb of her mother, St. Anne.
The dogma of the Immaculate Conception asserts that, “from the first moment of her conception, the Blessed Virgin Mary was, by the singular grace and privilege of Almighty God, and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of Mankind, kept free from all stain of original sin.”
The observance of this feast began with a papal encyclical “Ineffablis Deus” by Pope Pius IX, when he formally defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, on Dec. 8, 1854.
Mary’s sinlessness had ancient roots in the Church. In 1846, the U.S. bishops had chosen Mary as the patroness of this land under the title of the Immaculate Conception.
Like the dogma of the Trinity, there is no explicit biblical basis for the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. However, several biblical passages certainly point in this direction.
Mary was granted this extraordinary privilege because of Her unique role in history as the Mother of God. That is, She received the gift of salvation in Christ from the very moment of her conception.
Even though Mary is unique in all humanity for being born without sin, She is held up by the Church as a model for all humanity in Her holiness and Her purity, in Her willingness to accept the Plan of God for Her.
Every person is called to recognize and respond to God’s call, to their own vocation, in order to carry out God’s plan for their life and fulfill the mission prepared for them since before the beginning of time.
Mary’s “Let it be done to me according to Thy Word,” in response of the Angel Gabriel’s greeting is the response required of all Christians to God’s Plan.
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is a time to celebrate the great joy of God’s gift to humanity in Mary, and to recognize with greater clarity, the truth that each and every human being has been created by God to fulfill a particular mission that he and only he can fulfill.